- Reverend Dr. Miranda Threlfall-Holmes is Chaplain and Solway Fellow of University College, Durham. The opinions expressed are her own. -

A controversial decision by a committee drawing up legislation to allow women bishops has been met with criticism from women who are seeking equal representation at the highest levels in the Church of England.

Women have been ordained as priests in the Church of England since 1994, but cannot currently become bishops.

Since 2006, the Church of England has been preparing draft legislation to remove the legal obstacles to women bishops. In 2008, the General Synod voted to reject a range of options which set up separate structures within the church for those who could not accept women’s ordination, and instead asked the  Revision Committee to draw up simple legislation without discrimination, alongside a separate code of practice to "protect" those who objected to women’s ministry.

But last Thursday, the Revision Committee issued a statement saying that they had decided to reject this route. Instead, they propose to prepare legislation which would  enforce the transfer of powers from the diocesan bishop to a special anti-woman bishop, if the diocesan bishop were either a woman, or a man who agreed with the ordination of women.